By Christopher Smith
Forecasters say severe thunderstorms are expected to hit several North Georgia counties, including Whitfield and Murray, today with gusts of wind up to 50 mph, frequent lightning and heavy rain.
The National Weather Service issued a “hazardous weather outlook” for the area through Monday, with a wind advisory through this evening and the possibility of snow flurries across North Georgia early Friday and early Sunday. No accumulations are expected at this time.
Because of the system’s nature — “a summer storm in January” — Whitfield County Emergency Management Director Claude Craig said people should be extra “weather-aware.”
“Listen to your weather radio throughout the day, stay tuned to your local media, and pay attention,” he said. “Most of the time, these kinds of weather systems produce a lot of rain and straight line gusts, but you can get unexpected tornadoes that spin out of them. This particular system produced a few tornado watches west of here.”
Several tornado watches — the conditions for a tornado, as opposed to an actual tornado sighting — were issued in several Texas and Missouri counties.
High winds may still be enough hassle enough for some, Craig said.
“Winds that can get up to 50 mph can pull off shingles or cause some damage,” he said. “Usually, wind streams only get up to 50 to 75 mph about 20 days out of the year, most of that is in the summer. It’s funny. We go from predictions of an ice storm from one week, then predictions of a warm, summer storm the next week, but we keep moving on.”
Morning commutes to metro Atlanta might be sluggish with thunderstorms hitting after 9 a.m., with up to 2 inches of rain possible. The weather service also issued a flood watch through tonight for parts of northeast Georgia, expecting up to at least 2.5 inches of rain in an area around Blairsville, Dahlonega and Cleveland.